Ed Williams 1st Amendment Award

Having committed more than half a century to journalism as editor of The Charlotte Observer’s editorial pages and as a member and chair of WFAE’s Board of Directors, there are few who have contributed more to the mission of the “fourth estate” than Ed Williams. In celebration of his long and illustrious career, WFAE honored him with the inaugural Ed Williams 1st Amendment Award.

Ed Williams poses with the Kevin Siers tribute illustration commissioned for the first Ed Williams 1st Amendment Award ceremony.
Credit Jeff Cravotta / For WFAE

Listen to the award presentation and Ed Williams' remarks on Nov. 21, 2019, at the Foundation for the Carolinas in Charlotte

About Ed Williams:

Ed Williams was editor of The Charlotte Observer’s editorial pages for 25 years before retiring in 2008. 

Williams earned a B.A. in history at the University of Mississippi, where he edited the student daily newspaper. After two years in the Army, in 1967 he began his journalism career with Hodding Carter's Greenville (Miss.) Delta-Democrat Times. In 1970 he founded a state capital bureau in Jackson for the DD-T and three other small dailies. He also co-edited Mississippi Freelance, an iconoclastic monthly tabloid focusing on state politics. In 1972 he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship for a year of study at Harvard University. He worked briefly for the Ford Foundation, then joined The Observer as an editorial writer in 1973.

Williams was a frequent lecturer on innovation and ethics at the American Press Institute. His columns and editorials were part of Observer projects that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1981 and 1988. In 2003 the Mecklenburg County Bar Association gave him its annual Liberty Bell Award for community leadership and "willingness to take tough stands on tough issues.”  In 2008 Gov. Mike Easley conferred upon him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for service to North Carolina. In 2011 he was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. 

He serves on the boards of WFAE and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library and is a life deacon at Myers Park Baptist Church. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Marylyn Lentine Williams. Their son, Jonathan, lives in Tallahassee and practices with a Miami law firm.